OPEN relationships are now the most common type of relationship for gay and bisexual men in Melbourne, a survey has revealed.

The Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey collected the responses of 2886 men over Midsumma Festival earlier this year on questions around sex, relationships, and sexual health.

When it came to the relationship statuses of gay men in Melbourne, the survey found that a 32 per cent majority of respondents were in open relationships.

This was followed closely by 31 per cent who were in monogamous relationships, and 23 per cent who said they were only having casual sex.

The survey also indicated that gay men in Melbourne were increasingly aware of their own sexual health and getting tested more regularly.

The number of men having three or more HIV tests in the past year rose from 11.9 per cent in 2012 to 22.8 per cent this year.

Among men who engaged in casual sex, it also found that 5.1 per cent of HIV-negative respondents were on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) while 90 per cent of HIV-positive people were on treatment with an undetectable viral load.

Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) chief executive Simon Ruth said this year’s results are particularly interesting as they highlight PrEP use in the community.

“This is really the first time we’ve been able to see the way PrEP is protecting our community,” he said.

“The results around PrEP and undetectable viral loads show us what we’ve known for a long time now – that gay men in Victoria are smart, aware, and willing to engage with new and often complex information about sexual health and HIV prevention.”

VAC’s director of health promotion, policy, and communications Colin Batrouney believes the results around HIV and STI-testing are an indication of positive change.

“In these results we can see how testing behaviour is changing,” he said.

“The proportion of gay men who have had at least three HIV tests in the previous 12 months has almost doubled over the past five years.

“Testing every three months is particularly important if you’re having sex with a lot of different guys, and these look like the kind of men who are testing more frequently.”

The survey also looked at how men were primarily meeting other men for sex in Melbourne.

An overwhelming majority of 48 per cent said they meet other men on hook-up apps like Grindr, while 29 per cent said they meet men at gay bars.

Perhaps to further indicate this shift towards technology, only 11 per cent of men said they met other men at beats around Melbourne.

The periodic survey has been running since 1998 and was conducted by the University of NSW in conjunction with partner organisations around the country, like VAC in Victoria.

Read the full Melbourne Gay Community Periodic Survey here.

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